A meeting between father and son at the Plaza Diner in New Paltz this morning turned into a long-distance murder-suicide.
There Jeremy Kaartine, 22, shot his 58-year-old father Andrew before fleeing the scene and returning to Saugerties, where he lived. If he was indeed headed home, though, he never made it: police pursuit ended in a crash, and Kaartine was found dead by his own gun in the car. Though tragic, police consider it an isolated incident. Many details surrounding the case are still unknown, and an investigation is ongoing.
The father and son were believed to be estranged for several years, according to New Paltz Chief of Police Joseph Snyder, but little is yet known about their relationship. It seems plans had been made for them to meet at the New Paltz diner, where they both parked in the back. The location is about halfway between Saugerties — home of the son — and Salisbury Mills, where the father lived. The shooting took place with both outside their vehicles, and Snyder said that it was “apparently a very quick incident,” with the younger Kaartine leaving in his red Camaro after shooting his father with a handgun which Jeremy legally owned. One or more people called 911, and Snyder commended members of the public for that quick action, as well as remaining on the scene to be interviewed. The first responding officers administered CPR to the elder Kaartine, who was unresponsive when they arrived; he was pronounced dead upon arrival at an area hospital.
Carlos Linares, who lives in an apartment neighboring the Plaza Diner, was loading his car in the driveway when he heard four to five shots being fired from the diner parking lot. “I lived through the civil war in El Salvador for ten years, so I know what gunshots sound like,” said the 30-year New Paltz resident, “then I heard a car speed away. I could also see what appeared to be a white male on the ground. The EMTs were trying to do CPR on him.”
Linares said that it was sadly ironic because just the day before he and his son had been talking about how “safe it is to live in New Paltz. Then I hear these shots. It was very weird.”
An Ulster County sheriff’s deputy spotted a red Camaro going very fast on the Thruway, and attempted to pull the car over once Kaartine got off at exit 20 and headed north on Route 32. Saugerties police assisted the deputy, and the chase ended in a crash. Jeremy Kaartine was already dead by gunshot when officers reached him, but it’s not clear whether he shot himself before or after he crashed.
No recent domestic or other incidents have come up for either man, Snyder said, but a more thorough investigation is already underway. Both when had Facebook accounts, but Andrew hadn’t made a public post this year, and his son Jeremy hadn’t since 2013, when his posts focused largely on affirmations and boxing.
A hastily-convened press conference at New Paltz police headquarters Saturday included representatives of several involved agencies: Captain Mike Drake of the state police, chief assistant district attorney Mike Kavanagh, Saugerties police chief Joe Sinagra, and Ulster County sheriff Juan Figueroa. SUNY New Paltz police officers also assisted.
Erin Quinn contributed to this report.